When Pregnancy Cramps Your Style
Just when you thought you hit the second trimester sweet spot, the brief period of time where you feel a reprieve from the nausea and fatigue, you wake up in the middle of the night with sharp pains in your legs.
No one is really sure what cause leg cramps during pregnancy. The extra weight you are carrying around in your ever-expanding belly could be one culprit. Restricted blood flow in the legs could also be the cause since blood circulation changes throughout pregnancy. Or, those pesky pregnancy hormones that cause so many other pregnancy issues could also be to blame (again!).
When you’ll feel it
Pregnant women tend to get leg cramps during their second and third trimester – the time when the body rapidly changes and expands. While leg cramps can happen at any time throughout the day, you’re more likely to feel them at night when you are trying to catch your zzz’s.
When a leg cramp strikes
- Straighten your legs and flex your feet so that your toes are pointed up towards your nose. Flexing your feet instead of pointing them can help relieve some of the immediate pain.
- Stretch your leg muscles by standing about two feet away from a wall. Place your palms on the wall and lean forward, keeping your heels on the floor. You should feel a stretch in your calf muscles. Hold for 5-10 seconds, relax for a few seconds and repeat.
- Standing on a cold surface or applying a cold compress may also provide some relief.
- Apply local heat to the area where you are experiencing discomfort.
- Massage your legs and feet.
How to prevent leg cramps
- Stretch your calves and leg muscles several times throughout the day and right before bedtime.
- Regular exercise like walking, swimming or yoga can also help.
- Avoid standing or crossing your legs for long periods of time.
- Rotate ankles or wiggle your toes when sitting down for long stretches.
- Keep legs elevated when sitting or lying down.
- Wear comfortable shoes (avoid heels higher than 2 inches).
- Wear support hose during the day.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
- Take a warm bath or hot shower at night to help relax leg muscles.
- Massage legs and feet before going to sleep.
If leg cramps are on-going or are severe, contact your doctor who may be able to provide additional help. Also keep an eye out for swelling, redness or tenderness which may be a sign of blood clots or other problems.